Past singles winner Claire Liu and singles finalist Sam Riffice each made victorious returns to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Monday, opening play in the ITF (18s) division at the 50th Annual Adidas Easter USTA Junior National Spring Championships.
The top-seeded 16-year-old Liu, who won the Wimbledon Junior doubles titles last summer and has been playing mostly ITF Pro Circuit Futures and USTA Challenger events, made quick work of Chloe Beck, 6-1, 6-1.
Riffice, the No. 4 seed who lost to Taylor Fritz in the 2015 ITF final, struggled in the first set against Robert Maciag, pulling it out 7-6 (6), then blanking him 6-0 in the second set.
Liu, who made the final of the WTA BNP Paribas pre-qualifier tournament last month at this same Indian Wells Tennis Garden site, said her mindset doesn’t change switching from the pro events to the juniors. “I don’t think it really matters,” she said. “It’s still a match and I just want to focus on what I need to work on.”
Thousand Oaks’ Liu, who was just 14 when she won the 2015 Easter Bowl, will play doubles with Cerritos partner Kelly Chen. Liu explained why she decided at the last minute to take a wild card into the Easter Bowl. “I was going to lose my points from the ISC (in Carson) and I’m not going to play any more junior events until the French so I was going to lose some doubles points,” she said.
Last year’s Easter Bowl was also a success for 15-year-old Caty McNally of Cincinnati, who made the semifinals in the ITF singles. McNally lost to Liu and Usue Arconada in the Wimbledon doubles final at the All England Club in July.
Defending Boys’ ITF singles champion Gianni Ross will open play on Tuesday on the Stadium Court 2, which is being live streamed. The No. 2 seeded Ross meets Conrad Russell in the third match on.
Monday sightings at the Easter Bowl: Hana Mandlikova, who won four Grand Slam singles titles during her career, watched her daughter, No. 16 seed Elizabeth Mandlik; Former Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez was also on hand, watching her son Nicholas Godsick upset the top-seeded player in the Boys’ 12s in the Round of 16. Godsick’s father, Tony Godsick is Roger Federer’s agent; Former World No. 2 ATP player Petr Korda was also in attendance with son Sebastian playing in the Boys’ ITF. Billie Jean King, Illana Kloss and Rosie Casals came to watch a player coached by Casals, No. 2 seed and world No. 14 ITF junior Taylor Johnson.
Coachella amateur takes first place
Santos Ortega, a 17-year-old boxer from Coachella won three bouts in Albqeurque to take first place at a USA Boxing national event over the weekend. Ortega, who was the top-ranked 114 pounder in the country, fought in the 123-pound division, and beat a member of the Mexican junior national team in the process.
Rancho Mirage 17 29 Palms 1: The Rattlers continued their undefeated DeAnza League campaign with a dominant performance Monday. Daniel Whelan and Luis Velazquez led in singles, and the doubles teams of Tanner Moy/Carter Victorio and Alex Fierro/Tanner Williams swept all three of their respective sets. Picking up two wins was Carlos Arias in singles and Austin Robison/Alex Arias in doubles. Rounding out the scoring was Steven Martinez/Jesus Rosales who won one set.
Indio 281, Desert Mirage 299: Indio shot their low round of the year in windy conditions at Indian Palms Country Club to beat Desert Mirage in a non-league match. Indio was led by Aaron Delgado, who shot a nine-hole round of 45, and Jonathon Vargas finished with a 53. Angel Reyes finished with a 54. Desert Mirage had low scores were Emmanuel Zepeda with a 53, followed by Andreas Chavez with a 59 and Ignacio Ramirez with a round of 60.